Curacao facing Gold Cup challenges head on
Action from the CONCACAF Gold Cup game between Curacao (white jersey) and Jamaica on June 9, 2017, in San Diego, California, USA. (Photo: AFP)

DENVER, Colorado -- Curacao head coach Remko Bicentini already had challenges coming into the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Larger crowds at cavernous stadiums, short turnaround times between matches, travel and different climatic conditions all had to be navigated.

Bicentini didn’t want personnel issues, however, to impact his side.

After Sunday’s opening 2-0 loss to Jamaica, team captain Cuco Martina departed for England, where was expected to settle his club situation for the upcoming season.  Key players from 2018 World Cup Qualifying such as midfielder Jeremy Nooijer and forward Brandly Kuwas were not in the squad.

“It’s a different group now and a good group of players,” Bicentini said during a press conference Wednesday.  “There’s an opportunity for the players who haven’t played so far do get a chance.  And, just like against Jamaica, there will be a good group as well.”

Next for Curacao is a meeting with El Salvador on Thursday at Sports Authority Field, which is situated one mile above sea level.  The sides have met three times over the last two years, with the Salvadorans winning two matches in World Cup Qualifying by the same 1-0 score and a friendly this past March ended in a 1-1 draw.

“The players have noticed the altitude.  It has affected some of them physically,” Bicentini said.  “We also trained today, so we don’t think it will be a problem for the game tomorrow.  It won’t be our excuse.  We always build on our own strengths.

“We already played against El Salvador and their group won’t be that much different.  We also have a new group that El Salvador must face.  We also know the way they like to play.  We will have an answer to how they will play.”